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Cyber security definitions

  • Adware
    A program that displays advertisements that can be installed legitimately as a part of another application or service, or illegitimately without the consent of the system user.
  • Catfish
    Internet predators who create fake online identities to lure people into emotional or romantic relationships for personal or financial gain.
  • Cookie
    A small text file that is transmitted by a website and stored in a user's web browser that is then used to identify the user and prepare customised web pages. A cookie can also be used to track a user’s activity while browsing the internet.
  • Cyber attack
    A deliberate act through cyberspace to manipulate, disrupt, deny, degrade or destroy computers or networks, or the information resident on them, with the effect of seriously compromising national security, stability or economic prosperity.
    Note: there are multiple global definitions of what constitutes a cyber attack.
  • Cyber security
    Measures used to protect the confidentiality, integrity and availability of systems, devices and the information residing on them.
  • Cyber security incident
    An unwanted or unexpected cyber security event, or a series of such events, that have a significant probability of compromising business operations.
  • Cyber threat
    Any circumstance or event with the potential to harm systems or information.
  • Cybercrime
    Crimes directed at computers, such as illegally modifying electronic data or seeking a ransom to unlock a computer affected by malicious software. It also includes crimes where computers facilitate an existing offence, such as online fraud or online child sex offences.
  • Dark web
    Web sites that are not indexed by search engines and are only accessible through special networks such as The Onion Router (ToR). Often, the dark web is used by website operators who want to remain anonymous. The ‘dark web’ is a subset of the ‘deep web’.
  • Data breach
    The unauthorised movement or disclosure of sensitive private or business information.
  • Data spill
    The accidental or deliberate exposure of information into an uncontrolled or unauthorised environment, or to people without a need to know that information.
  • Digital footprint
    The unique set of traceable activities, actions, contributions and communications that are manifested on the internet or on digital devices.
  • Hack
    The unauthorised exploitation of weaknesses in a computer system or network.
  • Malicious email
    An email which has been deliberately crafted to cause problems on the server or on the client. This could be by making the message contain a virus, or crafting the message in such a way as to take advantage of a weakness in the receiving mail client.
  • Malicious software (malware)
    Any software that brings harm to a computer system. Malware can be in the form of worms, viruses, Trojans, spyware, adware and rootkits etc which steal protected data, delete documents or add software not approved by a user.
  • Pharming
    A way of harvesting personal information, where a hacker puts a malicious code on your computer that redirects you to a fake site.
  • Phishing
    Untargeted, mass emails sent to many people asking for sensitive information (such as bank details), encouraging them to open a malicious attachment, or visit a fake website that will ask the user to provide sensitive information or download malicious content.
    See also 'spear phishing' and 'whaling'.
  • Ransomware
    Malicious software that makes data or systems unusable until the victim makes a payment.
  • Security breach
    An act that leads to damage of a system or unauthorised access to the system.
  • Trojan
    A type of malware or virus disguised as legitimate software, which is used to hack into the victim's computer.

For the full glossary of definitions, visit Australian Cyber Security Centre’s glossary.

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